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Going by the Travel Book

May 10, 1987|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

"Old Kyoto--A Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants and Inns" by Diane Durston helps one discover a city that reflects Japan of the past. During World War II, the city was not bombed, so it retains its traditional warmth, sense of nature and an ancient craftsman's feeling of a beautifully carpentered forest. The guide is well-written and the photos put one close to the scene (Kodasha: $11.95).

"The Compleat Cruiser" by Eileen Krueger appears to be recollections of several cruises and what was learned to do or not to do. Its 39 pages of observation plus eight pages of space-taking sketches make the $7.95 tab a bit high. However, a first-timer might glean something from the paragraphs sprinkled generously with I's (Vantage Press).

Rick Steves explains how to see and do the most in "Europe in 22 Days" and "Spain and Portugal in 22 Days." Steves' guides are exceptional because they show how to jump easily in or out of suggested itineraries in case you want to dawdle a bit longer in certain spots. They provide maps, daily plans, bistros, small hotels and much more (W. W. Norton: $5.95 each). Steves is also the author of "Europe Through the Back Door--1987-88." Planning an enjoyable vacation will be easier with the advice and information that includes surmounting just about any problem encountered. From a listing of comfortable and reasonably priced hotels to helpful language phrases, the guide offers excellent suggestions (John Muir: $11.95).

"The Terrorism Survival Guide" is shirt-pocket size and could help travelers get rid of those shaky knees. Andy Lightbody offers 101 travel tips on how not to become a victim in the air or on the ground (Dell: $2.95).

"Great European Itineraries" by Michael Spring outlines the most popular and special routes in eight countries. Either the frugal or big spenders will find well-detailed information, including hotel and restaurant suggestions and much more. The here-to-there maps are sufficient, but when you hit town you'll need street maps (Doubleday: $9.95).

Attention, B&B buffs: "The Complete Guide to Bed and Breakfasts--Inns and Guest Houses" (John Muir: $12.95) by Pamela Lanier covers 2,800 inns and access to more than 10,000 private guest houses in the United States and Canada. "The Bed and Breakfast Guide" (Tallman: $11.95) by Phyllis Featherston and Barbara Ostler is described as the most comprehensive listing for the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The guides are professionally prepared compendiums with plenty of photos and sketches.

Good advice and information, sprinkled with many historical facts, can be found in "The Florida Keys--From Key Largo to Key West" by Joy Williams. Old forts, beaches, fishing, diving, old towns, quaint bars, unusual places to eat and cozy places to stay are well-covered (Random House: $9.95).

The title, "Academic Year Abroad 1987-88," reveals the guide's basic content. It describes more than 1,200 programs in 60 countries sponsored by U.S. colleges and universities. Costs, credits, eligibility and whom to contact, etc., are included with highlights and housing. Persons of almost any age group could find a life-changing educational experience (Institute of International Education: $16.95).

Will it be fun or a nightmare for parents visiting Big Ben with the kids? It should be easier with a copy of "Kids London" by Elizabeth Holt and Molly Perham. The guide can provide hours of fun, entertainment and educational opportunities for the young ones and for mom and pop. Besides piquing the imagination, you'll find it's written so everyone can relate to it (St. Martin's: $5.95).

Although brief, "Tokyo in Your Pocket" furnishes enough clues to help the traveler take in the most important places to see and visit, and where to eat and stay. It has more than 1,000 vignettes to help you learn a bit more about the city. For $3.95, it will save wading through heftier travel books (Baron's).

Ferry enthusiasts will find "Ferries of America" by Sarah Bird Wright an excellent guide to adventurous travel. The next cross-country or local vacation can be planned around the 260 connecting points that include schedules, facilities, fares and places of interest. Maps and photos of the boats accompany most of the entries, which are arranged by state and region (Peachtree: $12.95).

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